A new memoir offers an inside look at Jacqueline Kennedy‘s second marriage, to Greek-shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis.
“It was hard to tell by Madam’s business-like demeanor whether she was happy,” writes Kathy McKeon, the former first lady’s live-in assistant for more than a decade, in her new book Jackie’s Girl: My Life With The Kennedy Family (exclusively excerpted in this week’s PEOPLE).
When Jackie shared the news of her wedding that coming weekend, writes McKeon, “Is this what she wants? I couldn’t help but wonder. She and Mr. Onassis seemed like friends, not a couple.”
Looking back, McKeon tells PEOPLE that Jackie was happy that day. “[She seemed] normal, happy-go-lucky, just good,” McKeon said. “She didn’t say anything. The hairdresser was there. She did her hair and then I helped her get dressed. She did her own makeup.”
McKeon recalls going to the church in golf carts. Back at the yacht, where the reception would be held, the new bride changed for “a big party.”
“[Jackie wore] a long evening gown,” said McKeon. “It was pretty plain. I think it was yellow with beads around the neck like a shift dress [with] two slits at the bottom. Kind of one you would wear around the house — very cozy and comfortable like.”
According to McKeon, as she and the kids left for bed, she watched the couple dance.
“It was Greek music,” she said. “They were all dancing.”
The new Mr. and Mrs. Aristotle Onassis stayed on the yacht for their honeymoon.
When they returned, McKeon said that the new bride’s life didn’t change much — except for dinnertime.
“[Jackie] would come in very late for dinner and the cooks and the waitress would get grumpy,” she said. “Sometimes 10 o’clock. The cooks, they were getting too old for that.”
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Jackie wasn’t the only person affected by Onassis’ presence. Her children had to adjust to a new parental figure after losing their beloved father President John F. Kennedy. While Caroline struggled with the news at first, McKeon reveals she eventually accepted him.
“[John Jr.] loved Onassis and Caroline loved him too,” McKeon explained. “He was good for Madam and he helped out and protected them, too. They were very good to each other. They’d sit beside each other on the couch and rub one another’s back.”